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CHS 2018: Julia Charles-Wiginton on how Dragons’ Den changed her life

Julia Charles-Wiginton, director of Julia Charles Event Management, will be speaking at the CHS show in Leeds next week, where she will share all on how she got the Dragons to invest in her business

2008 seems such a long time ago now; so much has changed in my life since the fateful day I appeared on Dragons’ Den. I was the first person from the events industry to appear on the show and pitch an events business to the Dragons, but I never intended for it to be that way.

I had planned to pitch a completely different and new business to them because my events business was going well and I didn’t want the investment. But the Dragons weren’t interested in my new idea – they wouldn’t even let me speak about it and I got corralled into pitching for investment for D4M, my events and entertainment business.

This should have been my first warning shot, but I ignored it. The adrenalin was pumping as I got through the 90-minute intensive interrogation from the Dragons (you only see the highlights on the TV). So here I was, pitching for the ‘wrong’ business, being asked questions that I hadn’t prepared for and quoting figures that I hadn’t researched. It was a good job that I knew my business inside out really.

At the end I was offered investment from four of the five Dragons. I’d succeeded where so many have failed. It was a dream come true. But I simply couldn’t shake the feeling that it was just wrong.  I couldn’t celebrate that evening; I couldn’t even bring myself to drink the wine that my partner poured me, and I slept downstairs on the sofa with the TV on in a bid to help quiet the thoughts whirring around my head.

What followed was months of doing things that just weren’t me, wearing clothes that weren’t me and being told to act in ways that weren’t me. I buried and ignored my gut instinct and all the warnings as I tried to see the positives in being dragged down a path that just wasn’t for me. Until one day I took a step back and listened to my gut instinct and managed to fight my way out of the deal.

Nearly ten years on, I’m now co-director of a successful events agency. I can look back on my experience and take stock of what happened and why. This is just a hint at what happened. I’ll be sharing my full story with you at CHS in the hope that it will inspire you all to follow your gut instinct and believe in yourself and your own ability to know what is right for you.

This session will be held as a Q&A, and audience members are invited to submit their questions to me in advance by using #JuliaCHS on Twitter. See you next week.

CHS18 takes place on April 24 at the Leeds first direct arena. Come by and see PA Life over on stand number A27.